Video first look: how General Dynamics proposes to create an air-deployable WIN-T tactical communications node

By John Keller

Posted by John Keller

TAUNTON, Mass., 18 Feb. 2011. Military communications designers at General Dynamics C4 Systems in Taunton, Mass., have created a prototype Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) tactical communications node that is small enough to be air dropped from C-130 military cargo aircraft, or sling-loaded underneath the U.S. military's largest helicopters.

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This internal GD C4 Systems project, called Tactical Communications Node-Light (TCN-Light), has packed full WIN-T Increment 2 tactical communications capability onto a one-ton up-armored Humvee. The U.S. Army's standard WIN-T Increment 2 node must be packed on a five-ton truck that is part of the military's Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV)

Shrinking the WIN-T Increment 2 tactical communications node from a 5-ton truck to a one-ton Humvee means that mobile, rapid-response Army units such as the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 82nd Airborne Division, and the 10th Mountain Division, could be able to take advantage of WIN-T Increment 2 communications capability during early deployments in the field.

General Dynamics has taken on the project to shrink WIN-T communications nodes as an internal company project; the Army has not yet given the company approval to move ahead with production.

WIN-T is a satellite and land-based tactical communications network that enables fighting forces to send and receive voice, data, imagery, and video information to help them maneuver, protect themselves, and bring firepower to bear on the enemy to help them fight and win battles.

WIN-T Increment 1 provides networking capabilities for stationary forces down to the battalion level, while WIN-T Increment 2 provides networking on-the-move down to the company level. Future Increment 3 capability will provide full networking on-the-move to the company level for maneuver, fires and aviation brigades.

If General Dynamics can convince Army leaders of how useful the TCN-light capability is, then the most advanced tactical communications capability would be available to U.S. assault forces on the first day of battle.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

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